When you and your ex-partner first split up, you might have gone through the court system to handle matters of child custody. When this happened, you might have been generally happy with the custody agreement. You might have been granted joint custody of your children, for example, or you might have been granted ample visitation.
Of course, in order for a child custody order to work, both parties have to follow it. Unfortunately, these matters don’t always go as smoothly as they should. Your ex might not drop off the kids for your scheduled visitation, for example, or he or she might violate the custody order in other ways. These are some of the things that can happen if this is the case.
They Could Receive a Warning
If your ex is not allowing you to see your children or is otherwise violating the custody order that is in place, you can file a motion for your case to go back to court. If you take this step, a number of things can happen.
The steps that the court will take will depend on a few factors. If your ex has been generally following the custody order until now, this can help your ex’s case. The extent and type of violation of the order can also have an impact on how the courts will proceed. For example, the courts might be more lenient on someone who was late for a drop-off or pick-up of the child on one or two occasions than someone who is refusing to abide by the custody order at all.
Depending on the situation, your ex might just receive a stern warning in court. The judge might explain the consequences of violating the order and might encourage your ex to abide by the order that is in place. If you’re hoping for a resolution, this could be the best and most effective way to get it. After being warned in court, your ex might become nervous of the consequences and may follow the custody order in the future.
They Could Be Sent to Jail
Any time that a court order is violated, the person who violates the court order can potentially be held in contempt of court. If this happens, the family court judge can actually order the bailiffs to take your ex into custody. This means that your ex could potentially serve time in jail.
In many cases, family court judges try to avoid sending people to jail for violating these orders. For mistakes or first-time violations, other steps may be taken. If your ex has violated the custody order in a major way or has been to court on multiple occasions for violating the order, however, the chances of spending time in jail may increase.
Be aware that a family court judge can send you to jail for contempt of court for other reasons, too. For example, causing a disturbance in the courtroom or being disrespectful to the judge or bailiffs could lead to you being found in contempt of court. Dress appropriately when in the courtroom, and make sure that you follow the custody order yourself to avoid this.
Also, make sure that you behave appropriately, respectfully and professionally when you’re in family court. It can sometimes be challenging to stay calm when you’re dealing with something as serious and important to you as a child custody case, particularly if your ex has not been cooperating. However, behaving appropriately in court is essential if you want to avoid jeopardizing your case and if you want to stay out of jail.
The Custody Order Could Be Changed
In many cases, custody orders are changed in these situations. For example, the judge might determine that you should be granted “make-up time” to make up for the time that you should have been able to spend time with your children. The family court judge might decide to amend the court order to give you more time with your children on an ongoing basis, or he or she might determine that your ex should not have custody of the children at all.
If you are hoping that the custody order will be changed in your favor, make sure you’re well-prepared for court. In addition to showing proof that your ex has violated the custody order, you may want to bring in other evidence that might help the courts rule in your favor. For example, providing proof that you are financially stable and that you have a good, safe home and a stable lifestyle can help. Some parents even choose to take parenting classes so that they can learn valuable parenting skills and look good in custody court.
Your Children Could Be Affected
Unfortunately, the people who suffer the most in these situations are the children. If you are unable to see your children regularly, then they can suffer because of it. Your relationship with your children can be seriously impacted if you aren’t able to spend time with them often. They might not understand that it’s not your fault that you aren’t spending time with them. They may have been told things that were not true about you by your ex or others who are involved in their lives.
Working to resolve the issue the appropriate and legal way is essential if you want to reduce the impact on your children. As much as you might be tempted to, it’s important not to bash your ex to your children or to show your anger towards your ex when your children are around. Instead, go through the court system, and have custody-related conversations with your ex or others when your children cannot hear you. This can help you come to a better resolution without worrying about making things even harder on your kids.
If you are dealing with custody issues, it’s important to seek help. You don’t necessarily have to hire an attorney; in fact, you might find that it’s surprisingly expensive to do so. Instead, you can look into more affordable options for help with your custody situation. Contact us at National Family Solutions to find out how we can assist you.